Xumulus Blog

Reaction Commerce – Why we need to take a serious look at it now

Reaction Commerce is an open source Metor.js based ecommerce platform developed from the ground up to be a game-changing e-commerce platform. Its been over 4 years in the making and has received recently been funded by Google Ventures. So the product is maturing and is being backed by a technology leader. So should you consider this for your next store? I think it’s at that point were many e-commerce shops should take a serious look at it now. Weather your managed by an agency like ours, or you have in-house developers, its definitely time to take a close look and maybe even get the prototypes going.

On a recent call with the Reaction team, they mentioned to me that their main goal with their platform was to create an e-commerce system that is easier for developers to build on. While ease of development is sort of relative with Enterprise level systems, there are a few reasons I believe this is more than true. Namely, a NoSQL DB and a single JavaScript framework will alone make these platforms easier for developers in several areas, while admittedly likely complicating others (because sometimes NoSQL and Javascript Asyncronity can do that).

Reaction Commerce likes to use the analogy that many leading e-commerce platforms were invented before the iPhone to illustrate the issue. I think they may be targeting Magneto, as its 2008 debut would have made that the case. Magneto is a weave of many technologies that adds a huge layer of complexity to an app, EAV databases, JS libraries, Knockout, PHP and XML, to name a few. The release of Magento 2 now adds SASS compiling and a complicated build process to the mix. So they went up a factor in complexity, not down.

Technical Goodies

The Reaction platform achieves a lot of its simplicity through the use of NoSQL databases and full-stack JavaScript development. Reaction explained their decision to use NoSQL in place of the more traditional MySQL by focusing on the intuitiveness, ease of use, speed and scalability of MongoDB NoSQL. NoSQL has an advantage over other database management systems in that it results in simpler code that is easier to work with. In NoSQL, you fetch out of the database in a similar way that your mind would think about going about getting the information. This is beneficial in e-commerce because the database can mirror how a user shops. The data is matched – how it’s accessed in the application is just like how it is stored in the database.

This ease of use carries on in how through Reaction Commerce, you develop using JavaScript on the front end and the back end. Since you don’t have to switch languages when creating or modifying an online shop, the code is simplified.

Backed by a Serious Framework

Reaction Commerce is based on the Meteor node.js framework. Meteor is a full-stack framework that further enables rapid software development through its large and growing following and community of experts. Currently, the platform has 5,500 active open source community developers. Being built on Meteor offers a single app framework that does not have the liabilities of weaving in multiple technologies a la Magento. But let’s not kid ourselves too much: node.js and Meteor have their own complexity issues, as they are large packages with many moving parts and dependencies. But compared to some other legacy systems they are many times less of a headache.

Its flexibility and open source backbone have poised Reaction Commerce firmly as the future of e-commerce platforms. This was recognized in the company’s recent $8.5 million in venture capital funding led by Google Ventures. This infusion of cash will be used by the company to further develop new capabilities across its platform and to more fully build out it’s engineering and support technical staff.

You Say You Want Cloud, Well Maybe You Want a Platform Instead

Reaction Commerce has a unique model for platform hosting that is native to the tool. You can deploy and manage your instances from the command line to that platform.

The cloud environment “Platform” allows Reaction Commerce to enable continuous integration as a key component. Usually, continuous integration is difficult since it requires numerous development cycles to create a process and to connect that process with your infrastructure. Reaction Commerce, however, was designed with continuous integration as part of its foundation. The platform management is built into the core. You save a ton of time here by realizing these quick integrations, and your shoppers get the best possible experience without lag time for crucial updates.

Also, deploying to the managed platform gives retailers the best of both worlds. You can have a cloud-like managed environment on this platform but at the same time have the flexibility of a completely controlled source code base. This is in contrast to systems such as Shopify Plus or Salesforce Commerce Cloud, where managed platforms can result in much less resilience. For companies that need that flexibility, it is a game changer.

Real-Time Could Be Real Cool

Reaction Commerce is also real time. It’s built on a single page Meteor.js framework that uses a simple pub/sub message pattern. In addition, it is event-driven. So, in a nutshell, the Reaction Commerce framework affords several possibilities for reacting to customer shopping behaviors with as many events triggers as you can imagine. (See https://blog.reactioncommerce.com/why-reaction-is-real-time/)

Reaction Commerce is still a young product. It is ramping up now after a few years of intense development to ensure that it can meet the goals of being the first and last shop any retailer should need for the foreseeable future. And it is positioning itself to meet challenges of a new era of e-commerce. By using new tools and techniques, it is creating a simple, fast and reliable tool for online sales. Its flexibility, strength from the open source community and backing from Google Ventures should position Reaction Commerce as the retail platform for the future. The 90 percent of retailers struggling with the challenges of fully embracing online sales should see a big glimmer of hope in the Reaction Commerce platform.

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